Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

Okay seriously, how is it already the middle of October? I'm not quite sure how that happened. It's crazy! I feel like the time is going so fast! This is the calm before the wonderful storm we all call the holidays. And every year around this time I always try to slow down and savor the fleeting moments of fall. Of course, fall is a relative term since it's still 90 degrees here. Thank goodness for pumpkin spice coffee. At least I can be fall-like in the morning... In the air conditioning....

When I was brainstorming with dessert ideas for this time of year, I found myself wanting something else besides the apple and pumpkin classics. Don't get me wrong, I love me a good apple tart or sweet pumpkin pie but I wanted something a little different. Something chocolate. With peanut butter. Oh, and salty pretzels for crunch. I wanted to something where you don't need a spatula or a knife to serve. That way, you could easily serve them at a party or give them as gifts. Every one could use a delicious recipe like this right on the cusp of holiday season. And let me tell you, these beauties are a HIT! My family and friends go crazy for them and I promise you, yours will too! 

Photos by the wonderful Angela Sackett

Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

These have all the classic flavors of chocolate peanut butter cups but with the added crunchy texture of salty pretzels. These make great holiday gifts for all your family and friends. But let's be honest, they're great any time of year!

Makes 25-30 treats


1¾ cups gluten-free pretzels*
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coconut oil, separated
1¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips


Place pretzels in a large zip-top bag and use a wooden spoon or spatula to crush the pretzels into small pieces but not crumbs. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter and 3 tablespoons coconut oil until smooth. Add the sugar in 2 parts, stirring to combine. It takes a little force. You can also use your hands to knead it together until it becomes smooth. Fold in the crushed pretzels. Use a melon baller or teaspoon measure to scoop the mixture. Roll each scoop in your hands and shape into balls. Place each on a baking sheet or large plate lined with parchment paper. Keep in the freezer until slightly firm, about 25-30 minutes.

Fill a small saucepan with a little water and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate chips into a small, heat-proof bowl and place on top of the saucepan until the chocolate is melted, stirring often, about 3-5 minutes. Let it cool slightly. Remove peanut butter balls from the freezer and dip each into the cooled chocolate. Allow excess to drip off (using a fork helps). Place on a different parchment-lined pan or plate. If they get too soft to work with, place the peanut butter balls back in the freezer to harden slightly, then dip in chocolate. Let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until just slightly set.

Place the peanut butter chips and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a small, heat-proof bowl. Place over a saucepan with simmering water until melted and smooth, stirring often, about 3-5 minutes. Use a spoon to lightly drizzle over the chocolate. Let them sit overnight to set, or you can place them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes until set and crisp.

Make-Ahead Tip: Make these up to 3 days ahead of time. Just make sure you don’t eat them all before your party!

*I love the Glutino gluten-free pretzels. You can totally substitute regular pretzels if you are not worried about the gluten.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sparkling Sidecar

When it comes to summer cocktails, I always crave something light and refreshing. Something that's served cold with just a hint of sweetness. Oh, and I also want it to be easy to make. That's a definite. What's the point in having a lazy summer day if it can't be lazy!

My best friends know that I am a huge supporter of sparkling Rosé during the summer. Okay, really anytime. It's so light, crisp, and slightly sweet. But sometimes you want something with a little more "oomph." When I started coming up with summer drink ideas, I couldn't get a Sidecar cocktail out of my mind. It's a drink Patrick and I served at our annual "Prohibition Party." We served big pitchers of vintage cocktails like the Bee's Knees, Mint Julep, and Old Fashioned. But my personal favorite is always the Sidecar.

The Sidecar is made with cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice. Those Prohibition people were serious! It's tart, slightly sweet, and really refreshing. But this bold cocktail needed a lighter note for a hot summer day. Then I thought, champagne! Perfect! But the proportions had to be just right. I could tell this was going to be a messy job. I knew exactly who to call...

When I want an amazing drink, I call this man. Patrick can make a mean cocktail. Plus, he's been my partner in crime for more than 14 years now. When I say "Lets throw a 1920's party" he says "let me grab my hat and a cocktail shaker." He is my best taste-tester and my best pal. Okay, I guess I'm getting sentimental. Our 11th wedding anniversary is in a couple weeks. 11th. I seriously can't believe it. One night, we tested this cocktail until it was just perfect. (It's a tough job but someone has to do it!) I know it won't disappoint. 

Happy Summer y'all!

Sparkling Sidecar

Makes 4 drinks

1 cup cognac
½ cup triple sec
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup champagne or sparkling white wine, chilled
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

Pour cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice in a martini shaker filled with ice.  Shake for 30 seconds.

Pour champagne into the pitcher.  Then add the cognac mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Garnish glasses with maraschino cherries.
photos taken by Angela and Anna Sackett

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bread Bar

Everyone has their own kitchen quirks. I realized this the other day when my friends were talking about their eggs in the fridge. The discussion began after our friend Brooke posed the question, "Does anyone rearrange eggs in the carton or is that just me?" Turns out, she was the only one in our group but I know she can't be the only one who does it. But who knew? Seriously, I've known the girl for more than 20 years and had no idea! That's quirky.

Wait, I don't even keep my eggs in a carton...

I keep them in a big bowl in the fridge. Hmmm. Now, that's quirky.

And I always prep the coffee the night before. Always. I guess that's quirky too.

I'm telling you, kitchen quirks. Everyone's got them.

What do all these quirky habits have to do with a bread bar? Well, when it comes to weekend mornings, one of my favorite things to do is to relax on the couch with a nice cup of coffee. And thanks to my quirky kitchen habit of prepping it the night before, coffee is a cinch to make. Ah, I can hear the couch calling my name...

Oh wait. Breakfast! Now, I love to make pancakes and bacon and eggs or muffins or biscotti, especially on the weekends. But sometimes, I just want the coffee. On the couch. Mmmmm. That's where the bread bar comes in. It's such a fun and delicious breakfast but I literally can throw it together in 5 minutes. Patrick and Dallas both love it!

The Bread Bar can be whatever you want. I toast the bread and when it's nice and hot I rub a garlic clove over each piece. My mom used to make garlic toast like that all the time. Then comes the toppings: I always have avocados in the house. Smash one up and mix it with salt and olive oil. Chop up a tomato and add salt and olive oil. And make a dipping oil with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Put it all out the table and grab your coffee.

If you have a toddler maybe grab a napkin too... Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lemon-Almond Biscotti

What if someone asked you,
"Would you like a cookie for breakfast?"
You might have a confused look on your face. Sounds like a no-brainer. But for real, a cookie for breakfast? Definitely sounds like a trick.

But if you say, (in an Italian accent)
"Buongiorno! Vuoi biscotti per la colazione?"
Now that sounds delicious. Mmmmmm. 
Biscotti. Colazione.
Ah. Leave it to the Italians to make a cookie for breakfast sound so sophisticated.

But just because biscotti sounds like a sophisticated food doesn't mean you have to be fancy. Case in point- the photo above. What was it that Julia Child said? "If you're alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always pick it up. Who's going to know?"

Except here it's: "You can always eat biscotti in the kitchen without pants on. Who's going to know?"

Hmmm, who's going to know? Your mother. With an iphone. Who will post it on a blog. 
Oh brother. I can't help myself. Just look at those curls!

Anyway, back to biscotti!
I'm always surprised when I meet someone who has no idea what it is. "Biscotti" translated into English is literally "Cookies" but they're so much more than that. They're these crumbly slices of goodness that are slightly sweet and they become the perfect consistency when you dunk them in coffee. Heaven.

I've tried lots of biscotti recipes. Some are too hard. Some are too dense. Some are too crumbly. These Lemon-Almond biscotti are just right. And instead of using only refined sugar, I use a combo of brown sugar, coconut sugar and raw cane sugar. Now I really don't feel guilty about a cookie for breakfast. This recipe makes a lot of biscotti, but they keep really well in an airtight container. I just stick them in a big cookie jar and they last for more than a week! Buon appetito!

Lemon-Almond Biscotti

This biscotti is soooo good! The cookies are baked twice. A lot of times I will do the first round of baking at night and finish it off in the morning. My family and friends love when I make this recipe because it makes a lot!

Makes 25 biscotti

1/3 cup sliced almonds
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup raw cane sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ tablespoon of grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
3 cups Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten-free baking flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the sliced almonds in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Stir almost constantly for 2-4 minutes, until the almonds are slightly toasted. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer place the butter, brown sugar, coconut sugar, and raw cane sugar. Mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile crack two eggs and a separated egg yolk into a small bowl. Save the egg white for later. With the mixer on low, add the 2 whole eggs, the single egg yolk, the vanilla, almond extract, and the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture slowly until just combined. Then add the toasted almonds until evenly distributed. Give it one big stir with a rubber spatula and then dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface.

Roll the dough into a ball and cut in half. Roll each piece into a log about 11 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place both logs a few inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet.

Beat the reserved egg white for about 15 seconds. Brush the logs with the egg white and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of raw cane sugar. Place the rest of the egg white in an airtight container in the fridge. Bake the logs for 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool for 45 minutes or overnight. (If you decide to bake in the morning, cover the logs with foil)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Slice the log in ½ inch thick slices at a slight angle. It will be quite crumbly, that’s ok! It helps to squeeze the log together with your hand as you slice. Place the slices on a sheet pan with parchment paper (it is ok to reuse the parchment from the first baking). Brush the slices with the reserved egg white. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until browned.

Biscotti will keep in an airtight container for a whole week. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sheet Pan Dinner: Chicken Sausage and Veggies

When was the last time you blew a bubble? Chances are it's been a while since you've done it. Unless you have a toddler. Then your answer to that question is probably "What do you mean? I'm blowing bubbles right now, duh."

Dallas LOVES bubbles. Seriously, the kid could sit outside and blow bubbles for hours and not get tired of it. We have bubbles in the bath tub, in the backyard, on the front porch, and even in my truck! And Dallas knows exactly where they are and how to get to them. So needless to say, we are always doing bubbles. But I really don't mind one little bit. He's soooo into it and he's so darn cute. How can I say no?

Look at those little bare feet and those adorable curls. Nope, I won't say no to bubbles. And I have to admit, bubbles are pretty cool. Especially in champagne.... Ahem. Anyway.
So what do bubbles have to do with a sheet pan dinner? The answer is EVERYTHING.

Here's the thing: all this afternoon bubble-blowing is enough to make anyone pretty hungry. And it's kind of hard to be babysitting something over the stove and do bubbles at the same time. That's why I have come to rely on sheet pan dinners a lot. It's brilliant! A whole dinner on one sheet pan. And the prep is totally simple - just chop up some veggies. I'll do it whenever I have a little time during the day, usually during Dallas's nap. But if you work during the day, prep the ingredients in the morning, put everything in zip lock bags, and just bake when you get home. So simple!

This recipe is very flexible. You can add whatever vegetables you want but these are my faves. I love how the sweet potato and carrots get slightly caramelized, the tomatoes become sweet, and the Brussels sprouts get crisp. Also, roasting green beans is a new revelation to me. Holy cow, they're so delicious. And feel free to use bone-in chicken breasts but I always go for the chicken sausage. It takes the easy factor up a notch. Just throw those bad boys on the top of the veggies, toss it all in the oven, and grab the bubbles.

Sheet Pan Dinner: Chicken Sausage and Veggies

1 small sweet potato, cut into 1½-inch long strips
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
½ pound green beans, trimmed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the sweet potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and tomatoes on a baking sheet (Careful not to overcrowd the vegetables, otherwise they will steam instead of roast). Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the vegetables and toss with your hands. Place the sausage links on top of the vegetables. Bake for 50 minutes, until the sausage is cooked through. Enjoy!

recipe courtesy:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

There's no denying the versatility of a slow cooker. You can roast in it. You can cook in it. You can make mulled wine. I've even seen cake recipes for it. Just type in "slow cooker recipes" on pinterest and you may think a slow cooker will change your life!

But the truth is, the slow cooker and I haven't always been the best of friends.

Okay fine, I admit it. I am SCC... slow cooker challenged. I can make a French Apple Tart without a problem but the slow cooker? Forget it. I've tried recipes. I've tried just throwing in a bunch of things and seeing what happens. But something would always go wrong. It would taste weird or I would forget to turn it on (minor detail).

One time I tried a recipe from pinterest that promised me a delicious Tuscan soup with quinoa and chicken. What came out was "quinoa glue." Its was awful. That was the last straw! I completely gave up.

But when Dallas came along and a new house renovation was brewing, I needed that slow cooker versatility. I needed the old girl. This time I was determined to make it work. I stuck to the basics. After some trial and error, I finally found some recipes that I absolutely love! Now whenever I know I have a crazy day coming up, I just plan on making one of those. This Mexican Chicken Soup recipe is especially good. And the best part is that it's super easy to do. Just throw everything in and go about your day.

Or in this case, throw everything in, (turn it on), drink margaritas, and serve.

Happy Cinco de Mayo y'all!

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

4 small chicken breasts or 2 large chicken breasts
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1/3 cup salsa
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion (or ½ of a large one), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels

Topping Suggestions: (pick your favorites!)
sliced jalapeños
tortilla chips
 lime wedges
sliced avocado
cheddar cheese
hot sauce
sour cream
sliced green onions

Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Sprinkle chili powder, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper over the chicken. Add the tomato paste or salsa, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and give it a quick stir.

Set the slow cooker on high for 5-6 hours. After it's done, use two forks to shred the chicken. Stir in corn kernels. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings, if necessary (I usually have to add another ½ teaspoon or so of salt). Serve with all the toppings you want. I especially recommend squeezing in some fresh lime juice and topping with cilantro. So delicious. Enjoy!

Suggested wine pairing: Margaritas!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

You there?

Oh good. I thought I lost you for a second there.

It's been a while I know. And I've missed you. I've missed this. So this is me starting again.

The past year and half has been amazing! And crazy. I mean who adopts a baby, buys a house, renovates it, and moves in during the holidays. We cray cray, y'all. But now that sweet "baby" is a year and a half (how did that happen???) and the house that was our "renovation project" feels like our home. Home. And that whole whirlwind year was absolutely worth every crazy moment.

So I want to take advantage of this brief moment of serenity to start blogging again before change comes, as it inevitably does.

Or before Dallas wakes up. That always happens too.

I am giving you fair warning though. You may notice a change in my writing. A change in my tone. Things may be a little messier. A little more casual. Because my kitchen is no longer just for testing recipes, it's the heart of our home. It's where I make my family's meals. It's where my friends and I get together to make chocolate bark for our best friend's baby shower. It's where my husband and I have our favorite kind of Friday night; eating a good home-cooked meal with a bottle of wine right on our kitchen island. It's where I bake cookies for a friend who's had a bad day. And it's where Dallas stands on his little white stool and helps me make pancakes every Saturday morning. And lets face it, sometimes you get pancake batter on the counter.

Or on the floor...

Sometimes in your hair...

So things are a little messier. A little more casual. But you know what?

I am just fine with that.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A [Gluten-Free] Memorial Day

Don't you love 3-day weekends?? And there's just something about Memorial Day. It's like the signal from the calendar that summer is here. Well, I guess at least here in Florida. Holy Cannoli, the 90 degree temperatures have already started! This weekend we don't plan on leaving the beach. Nope. You can't make us. So that's why I'm headed to the grocery store today to stock up on all the food we need for the weekend. I'm planning on keeping it simple and of course delicious. I've rounded up some of my favorite summer recipes for you. Just click the photo to get each recipe!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Cucumber-Dill Salmon Bites
Summer Corn and Tomatoes
The Perfect Arnold Palmer
Watermelon and Feta Salad

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Lauren Marie

All recipes courtesy of

Monday, November 30, 2015

[Gluten-Free] Apple Pie Martini

This holiday recipe actually started on a warm July day last year. The girls in my family were celebrating my cousin Amanda's birthday at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa (love that place!). At the time, I was in the middle of working on my first holiday menu for Gluten-Free Living Magazine. And while the menu was really starting to take shape, I was totally stumped on cocktail ideas. To be honest, the only drink I could ever remember my family serving for Thanksgiving or Christmas was sangria. And even though my grandfather claimed it was a secret recipe, if you ever watched him make it you knew it was a different (delicious) concoction every time...

So I decided to get some opinions from the girls. I told them I wanted to do something fun. I was thinking sweet and maybe in a martini glass. Amanda immediately screamed "Apple Pie Martini!" WHOA. WHAT? YES. It was perfect! Who doesn't love apple pie?? I went home and started brainstorming on how I could get big apple pie flavor in a chilled martini glass. Then I brought in my secret weapon... my husband. Patrick is a very, very good cocktail maker. In fact, most of my drink recipes are a collaboration between the two of us. And don't worry, we keep testing until each recipe is perfect. Even if we have to taste-test three or four times. I know, it's a tough job really.... Trust me, you'll really enjoy this one. Thank you Amanda. Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My [Gluten-Free] Holiday Buffet

I'm so happy to finally be spilling the beans! My 2015 Gluten-Free Holiday Menu is published in Gluten-Free Living Magazine on newstands now! Want to know where you can buy one? Click here and scroll down. 

Want a sneak peek of what you'll find? Scroll down and check it out!

Psssst... Get these recipes right now on GFL's website:

These 11 recipes were a labor of love this past summer. 
I tested and tasted and tested again... until they were all perfect! 

I served many of these at this past year's Thanksgiving in July Party to give them all a good test run. They were a hit! I promise you these recipes are ones you can count on. 

So pick up a copy of Gluten-Free Living and get ready to impress your holiday guests!

And if you want my recipes from last year's menu in GFL,  just click here.

All photos are by the amazing Angela Sackett. Check out her awesome blog here.